By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Demolition on the old Cherokee High School building, which has sat vacant since 2009, will begin next week. Tribal Council approved a resolution in Budget Council on Aug. 1 which authorized the EBCI Division of Commerce and the Tribal Finance Office to find funding for the demolition.
According to Christopher Greene, EBCI Project Management Dept., the contract for the demolition work was awarded to the Graham County Land Company, a Robbinsville-based general contractor firm that specializes in land clearing and debris management. “The end date on the contract is Jan. 1, 2018,” said Greene who related the price tag for the demolition is $378,000. “The demo will be done long before that.”
The demolition includes the building itself plus the concrete stands at the old Ray Kinsland Stadium.
The resolution, which passed 10-0 on Aug. 1 (Big Cove Reps. Teresa McCoy and Richard French were absent for that vote), states in part, “The existing old high school building is in ill-repair from years of sitting vacant and numerous types of vandalism, this building poses a safety and health hazard to our public…there is a great need for this condemned or non-functional building to be demolished to save the Tribe approximately $465,000 per year.”
According to numbers provided by EBCI Commerce officials, the vacant building has been costing the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians an average of $1,273.82 per day in utility costs.
During a July 17 Planning Board meeting, Commerce officials presented four options for the 21.4 acre site including: Multi-Sports Complex, some form of niche retail, cultural diversity with retail, and a five-star grocery store with retail. No decision has been made yet as how to proceed with developing the property.
In a July 12 working session on the matter, Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed commented, “Granted, it would be nice to have an administration building there. It would be nice to have cultural things there or anything of the sorts, but whatever the decision is, we have to be honest with ourselves that right now our spending is outpacing the amount of revenue that can be generated by gaming.”